Updated: Jan 7
Mairaj Ul Hamid, Published Scholar of Pakistan-Afghanistan and American Relations
Mr. Mairaj ul Hamid Nasri is well read and published scholar of Pakistan-Afghanistan and American relations. He has been contributing to various magazines, journals and websites through his writings on contemporary issues in the region. Above 100 Conference Presentations, Research Papers, Articles, and Policy Briefs are in his credit. He has worked with Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad for three years as Research Coordinator and currently teaches at department of Political Science, University of Malakand, Pakistan on regular basis. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Interview with Chinese Views on Non-Traditional Security
1. In your paper, you mentioned that Pakistan and Afghanistan have deep rooted historical links, traditional affinity, social fabric similarity etc. In current situation, what is Pakistan' foreign policy or assistance policy toward Afghanistan? With the establishment of new government, what bilateral relations do the two sides expect? Based on Current situation, do you have any advice for narrowing the gap between existing and desired format of relationship?
Answer 1. Afghanistan is passing through a period of persistent crisis and is consistently in search of peace, stability, prosperity and trustworthy friends. Pakistan has always been friendly, cordial and accommodative since the very beginning towards Afghanistan. Pakistan has supported Afghan brothers and sisters in every hard time and has accommodated Afghan refugees more than any other country during the crisis periods. Politically, Pakistan has always supported “Afghan led and Afghan Owned” Political Process and has advocated for solving the Afghan dilemma through indigenous approach and letting Afghans to solve their core issues by themselves. Pakistan was an active member of Murree Peace Talks, Quadrilateral Coordination Group, Oslo Talks, Urumqi meetings, Moscow Process, Kabul Process, Doha Peace Talks and many other official and unofficial peace negotiations between two warring Afghan factions. Socio-culturally, Pakistan is the only neighbor of Afghanistan which has more assistance and help to offer to the Afghans since 1980s, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds and political affiliations. Thousands of Afghans have been offered free education in Pakistan from nursery to university level degrees. Afghans’ term Pakistan as their second home and they feel free to live happily in any city or countryside of Pakistan along with their families and relatives. This affinity has now turned to blood relations and thousands of Pakistanis and Afghans have inter-married, bringing more sweetness to the bilateral relationships of the two nation-states.
2. Similarly, in the current situations, Pakistan has opted to remain neutral as usual in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and let Afghans decide their future political system. Nevertheless, being an immediate neighbor and the country having more stakes in Afghanistan; has advised the Emarat e Islami Afghanistan or Taliban to adopt accommodative approach and make an inclusive government including major factions and groups in Afghanistan, thus ensuring enduring political set up in Afghanistan. Pakistan has no favorite in Afghanistan and any group having the legitimate representation will be the friend of Pakistan. Currently, Emarat e Islami Afghanistan is the only group that represent Afghan populace and are the saviors of Afghans who fought the occupation forces for twenty years with their blood and sweat, have proved to be the real representatives of Afghans and have the legitimate right to rule Afghanistan. Pakistan looks forward to help, guide and support the new government of Afghanistan for ensuring peace inside and outside Afghanistan.
3. With the instalment of the new government in Afghanistan, Afghans will definitely look towards Pakistan for support, assistance and guidance owing to Pakistan’s persistent policy of supporting peace and stability in Afghanistan and ending the state of constant violence by the foreigners. Bilateral relationships will get strengthen during the new government because, this government is indigenous, purely Afghan, real representative of Afghans and very well know the sacrifices of Pakistan and Pakistanis due to instability and foreign occupation in Afghanistan during the so-called War on Terror. Emirat e Islami is very well known to the religious factions of Pakistan and have cordial relations with their mentors in Pakistani Madrassas or religious seminaries which will definitely help in getting closer to each other in the near future.
4. During the Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai eras there were many miscreants and game spoilers that created mistrust and started blame game between the two brother nations. This created communication gap and many excellent opportunities of getting closer were missed out. Now as the current government is more enthusiastic and cordial, we may expect that these gaps will be minimized and will come closer to each other. People to people contact should be enhanced, Media channels should be guided to increase cordiality towards each other and frequent bilateral exchanges be encouraged. Students exchange visas should be increased and curriculum must include lessons that will create a sense of belongingness and oneness be created among the children of both the states. Last but not the least, Afghanistan is the largest market for Pakistani goods, so economic activities should be exponentially increased and closed border passes like, Bin-Shahi and Kharki Border passes in Dir Lower, Ghakhi-Pass and Naawa-Pass in Bajaur district, Bolan Pass and Shondoor Pass along with many other such closed border passes should be immediately opened for cross border business opportunities.
2. In the future development, will the drug problem be one of the big issues? What does Taliban and Pakistan expect China to help them to get rid of drug problem?
Answer 5. During the previous tenure of Emarat e Islami, the drug issue was controlled up to a larger extent but during the period of occupation, drug business has restarted and Afghanistan once again became the largest producer of opium in the world. 80% of these drugs were transported via Pakistan and has drastic effects on Pakistan’s population. It has played havoc with lives of millions of the people across the border. This issue will prevail to a certain extent in the near future because the lives of thousands of families are connected with the drug sector. It will be a real challenge for Emarat e Islami to transform the livelihoods of these families to another sector and crush the black economy of drugs efficiently. For the said purpose, regional players like Pakistan and China can play key role in transforming the lives and income sources of these families and mafias. Afghanistan’s geo-strategic location presents golden opportunity for China and Pakistan to make Afghanistan a Transit-Hub by extending the projects of BRI and OBOR to Afghanistan. CPEC can easily be extended to Afghanistan via land routes, Gwadar and Chabahar and reach out to the Central Asian Republics, Russia and Europe. Thus, the Drug economy will be transformed to Transit Trade opportunities and the regional states will be easily approached in legitimate economic terms instead of illegal, illegitimate and unethical drug smuggling across the borders. Emarat e Islami Afghanistan should make strict announcements for dealing with iron hands with the drug dealers and mafias in Afghanistan and reach out to Pakistan and China for helping Afghanistan in getting out of this menace. Through legal and legitimate businesses, cross border illegal and black economy will be streamlined and drug mafias will not get any chance of crossing the border with trucks full of Opium and Marijuana.
Editor Assistant Research Fellow: Xianglin Gu